Procrastination and Newton’s Law of Inertia.

Tips for Getting Out of a Workplace Slump.

Newton’s first law states that “an object at rest stays at rest, and an object in motion stays in motion, unless acted upon by an outside force.” This is the Law of Inertia, likely a law you have not thought about since graduating high school. But, today we take a trip back to your Physics lab, because the law of inertia may surprise you with its relevance to productivity in your public relations position, and procrastination.

We have all been “an object at rest, staying at rest.” At some point, everyone has experienced procrastination, burnout, fear of failure, or stress to the point of not knowing where to start. Research from the American Psychological Association found that everyone procrastinates, and up to 20% of adults are chronic procrastinators. Maybe you’ve been meaning to look into that new technological solution, build your LinkedIn network, redesign your website, or clear your inbox. By putting it off over and over again, we subconsciously build up a task in our minds to something that feels monumental. 

The first step is to assess if the task is truly necessary. Maybe reorganizing your desk drawer is not a priority during a busy work season, and that’s okay. Write down a date in your calendar that you will start that task, and move on. But, if this task has been nagging at you, inducing guilt and stress, and side-eying you every time you log in to work, it’s time to deal with it!

Next, analyze the root of procrastination. Procrastination is actually less about productivity and more about managing your emotions. Our brains are wired to do what is easiest and protect ourselves from perceived danger: in this case, an undesirable task. It is possible that deep down the reason we are putting it off is imposter syndrome, insecurity or self-doubt. This is why a solution must start internally. We have to forgive ourselves and build up confidence in our abilities. 

A study that was conducted in 2012 examined the relationship between procrastination, stress, and self-compassion. Results revealed procrastinators tend to have high stress and low self-compassion, suggesting that self-compassion provides “a buffer against negative reactions to self-relevant events.” Quit shaming yourself for your past procrastination. Inertia was working against you. With this weight off your shoulders, you can begin to tackle that influencer research task with a positive attitude. 

One great strategy for starting a new task is putting on “blinders” and focusing only on the next action. This allows for “a layer of self-deception,” according to Dr. Tim Pychyl, professor of Psychology and member of the Procrastination Research Group at Carleton University in Ottawa. You may have heard the saying, “there is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.” This approach takes that idea a step further by concentrating solely on what we can accomplish right now, thus alleviating some pressure.

Sign up for that digital marketing course today; schedule a networking coffee meeting; start typing a draft of the case study. Don’t get too far ahead of yourself. Just take that first action and start moving forward. You may find it is not as hard as you thought. It will get easier, because as Newton taught us, “an object in motion stays in motion.”